Working in water research in Florida affords us plenty of excitement. 2017 certainly had its highlights. In addition to our regular efforts of communicating best practices in irrigation in both landscape and ag, this year marked the conclusion of two lengthy studies and the launch of several others. We also celebrated some notable achievements, some bittersweet departures and some welcome arrivals. Let’s get into the specifics as we look back at the year that was for IrriGator and UF-ABE.
Start At The Beginning
Everything began on a high note in January when one of our better blog entries of 2016 was adapted for a feature in Irrigation Today - the Irrigation Association’s quarterly publication about all things irrigation. Read along as Dr. Michael Dukes and I get to the bottom of whether or not one can install too many water-saving devices on an irrigation controller.
Can you have too many water saving sensors on your timer? We tell you all about it in the Jan 2017 Irrigation Today: https://t.co/DoksFYmK4d pic.twitter.com/HTPlkaDjaO— UF/IFAS IrriGator (@IrriGatorUF) January 23, 2017
Another immediate benefit to all of IFAS this year was the addition of new data and water faculty. Recognized as the Environmentally Resilient Resource-Efficient Land Use Cohort, many of us had our first opportunity to meet these experts and learn about their work during the 2017 Urban Landscape Summit. I'm especially excited about Dr. Eban Bean. Dr. Bean is not only involved in forward-thinking research in urban stormwater, but he also eagerly invites audiences into his work by way of a strong digital presence on Twitter - smartly employing tweet threads and visual content to inform and educate. Watch for more from Dr. Bean et al. on IrriGator and Twitter in 2018!
Take a minute to save 💰& 💦 by cutting your irrigation to 1d/wk this weekend as we fall back an hour. pic.twitter.com/wWuaOcRerI— Eban Bean (@EbanBean) November 1, 2017
...One To Go
While I’m on the topic of communicating research, this year I continued on my quest to interview all five of IFAS’s regional specialized agents in water. See my discussions with Drs. Mary Lusk and Charles Barrett and get up to date on the water issues in their areas of the state. Hopefully, 2018 will be the year I finally speak with the elusive Andrea Albertin of Florida’s NW district. You can also follow the work of all the water RSAs on the IFAS Extension blog.
We talk with Dr. Natalie Nelson about #scicomm and the focus of her new position @NCState_BAE! https://t.co/EFz7jPcvPu pic.twitter.com/jME47J6Xv1— UF/IFAS IrriGator (@IrriGatorUF) August 16, 2017
As new faculty was finding their place among the Gator Nation, many of our brightest graduate students were setting off for new endeavors elsewhere. Accomplished researcher and popular IrriGator contributor Dr. Natalie Nelson successfully defended her PhD during summer and began the fall term as part of NC State’s BAE department. Masters student Eliza Breder defended her research based on the (just concluded) Orange County Smart Irrigation Study and moved on to lend her data skills to Suwannee River Water Management District. And landscape water-use expert Dr. Mackenzie Boyer defended her PhD as well, just before welcoming her third child into the world. Click on the respective links above to read interviews with these stellar UF-ABE alums.
|Next stop: Detroit, MI|
Ends and Initiations
As mentioned above, some long-term research work concluded this year. I made my final field visit for the Orange County Smart Irrigation Study in October and the final task report was filed this month. ABE PhD student Maria Zamora oversaw the third and final year of the nutrient management best practices study we affectionately refer to as SVAEC because it's based at the IFAS ag extension center in Live Oak.
This project set the foundation for the ambitious undertaking known as FACETS which we’ll cover extensively here in 2018. And while 2016’s work was making the rounds at conferences this fall, the Dukes group finished their most recent product test with the IrriGreen Genius sprinkler. This zone parameter-adjusting rotor from the future went head-to-head with traditional rotors during summer and fall. I especially enjoyed working with this device because while preparing the research plot it put me back in the field digging trenches and cutting/gluing pipe in the summer sun. Once a tech always a tech.
|Maria Zamora presents research in Honduras during summer|
There’s much to look forward to in water research in 2018. As for me, I’ll be watching from South Florida again as I am now part of Broward County’s Naturescape Irrigation Service. But one cannot specialize in outdoor water-use and not be cognizant of the research and education work ABE and IFAS does. I learned from the best there and take that insight with me wherever I go. And because words and visual media are my favorite means for communicating what I know and showcasing what other experts are working on, I assure you this will continue uninterrupted.